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Author Richard Lowry found more readers, and sales, with Google Books.

A military historian and former sailor, Richard Lowry was keenly interested in Operation Desert Storm, which occurred in 1991. Over time Mr. Lowry gathered a good deal of material on this military operation, including details he collected by writing to all the key generals involved. He amassed so much information that he decided to write a book chronicling the whole campaign. It took him 12 years to complete.

"I knew nothing about the publishing industry," recalls Lowry today. "I thought I could submit a book somewhere and then it would appear in every bookstore." After some initial "learning by doing," in his phrase, along with a desire to get the book out, he published his 300-page manuscript using the services of iUniverse. The Gulf War Chronicles first appeared in November 2003.

Like many others, occasionally Lowry types his own name into Google. That's how he discovered that his book was available through the Google Books program. iUniverse had joined Google Books in order to market his book and the rest of their titles through Google. Google Books makes the full text of books searchable alongside websites and everything else that Google indexes, providing snippets of titles in Google Books with links to booksellers.

Programs for publishers and libraries
What content Google users can see from any given book depends on how it reaches Google Books. Those who find titles that are in the Publisher Program can see a limited number of pages from the book; users who find in-copyright books that Google has scanned through the Library Project see only an “information page” offering bibliographic data, the number of times their search term appears, and, for most books, a few snippets of text where the keyword appears.

Large and small publishers alike use Google Books as a free worldwide sales and marketing tool that matches people who are looking for information with the relevant words and phrases inside their books. They use it to attract new readers and boost book sales, earn new revenue from Google contextual ads, and interact more closely with their customers through direct 'Buy this Book' links back to their own websites.

When The Gulf War Chronicles first appeared in Google Books, he saw his sales ranking on the Barnes & Noble index jump "considerably" – by 85 percent – and it stayed there."

Self publishers like iUniverse face a particular challenge in ensuring that their authors can compete in the crowded landscape of new books being published each month. iUniverse offers a variety of marketing services to its authors such as assistance with publicity and advertising. Google Books benefits their authors by enabling them to increase the visibility of their books on Google, and iUniverse leverages Google Books to help their authors market and sell their books.

Gaining exposure and sales
Although Lowry felt "gun-shy" about his entire book being searchable online, with portions available for users to view, he liked the presentation in Google Books. "The way the book is presented is very nice. I don't think there's an issue" about cannibalizing sales, he says. In fact, with no additional marketing by Lowry when The Gulf War Chronicles first appeared in Google Books, he saw his sales ranking on the Barnes & Noble index jump "considerably" – by 85 percent – and it stayed there. "The exposure from Google Books has helped immensely," he says. Lowry is no stranger to marketing his own work. He has built a website (www.gwchronicles.com), he speaks at public events, and continues to research and write. "Your books stop selling when you stop selling your book," he says. So he's especially appreciative of being able to search within the book ("everyone I've interviewed finds his name, and that's an instant sale," he says). He also likes the fact that there are several options on the page for buying the book.

In part because Lowry has worked hard to promote his work, he found an agent and already has a contract for his second title, which will be released by Berkley Publishing early in 2006. Furthermore, he has begun a third book about Marines serving in Iraq, entitled U.S. Marine in Iraq – 2003, which will be published as part of British-based Osprey Publishing's Warrior Series.

Both Berkley and Osprey are publishers in the Google Book Search program, which suits Lowry fine. "I'm very happy that they participate in Google Books, as I know it will help my sales," he says. "Very soon, we'll have all the knowledge of the world at our fingertips, and Google Books will play a large role in bringing that knowledge into our homes and businesses."

 

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